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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

ALEXANDER  VON  HUMBOLBT.                   61
Science, which searches after the cause of every
phenomenon in its effects, certainly deprives it of its
marvellous character, and perhaps also of a part of its
charm., in. the eyes of those who are only able to gaze,
and not to examine. But in Humboldt, the first
emotion of nature, and the penetrating, inquiring mind
for the natural reasons and laws of every appearance,
are united in a higher, harmonious character, and tlie
first impression on his feelings is always succeeded by
*tlie clear insight of the naturalist.
Huxnboldt relinquished his formerly cherished in-
tention  of visiting the Eastern branches of the Cor-
dilleras in iSTew Granada, as he would no longer delay
Ms journey to the Orinocco, for Ms chief purpose now
was  to explore the junction of that river with the
Hio Negro and the Amazon.    On the 6th March he
left the valleys of Araguay, with his companion, to
continue his wanderings in the steppes, whose pecu-
liarity, in contradistinction to the African steppes, he
has especially treated.    He crossed the prairies, plains
overgrown with gigantic grasses,  in which many a
jaguar lies concealed, and which no shade refreshes, as
the palm tree growing here is parched, and almost
leafless.    Humboldt inquired here into the breeding
of horses and horned cattle, of which large herds live
on those desert spots, and whose export is an impor-
tant trade for the seaports on the coast.    Over Cala-
bosso their way lay through the deserts of the llanos
of Caracas, wfxere Humboldt found a new subject for
inquiry  in  the  gyrnnotes,—the   electric  fish.     The
waters near Oalabosso, which flow into the Ormocco,
and the marshes, were filled with these electric eels,
and Humboldt saw, at the same time, the peculiar
manner of catching them by means of horses, some
of whom were drowned.  The eels attached themselves
to the horse's belly, and stunned them, by their elec
trie shocks; so that a real fight on horseback had to
be waged with these animals until they ware exhausted,
am!  had to collect new galvanic power,  and  those
stunned horses, which had escaped drowning,
restored.